Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Koko Taylor tribute

Koko Taylor tribute 20090609

Since the days the Classic Blues women of the 1920s dominated the Blues scene, few women have opted to sing the Blues, but Koko Taylor sang with most of the important Blues artists over her career and she was the envy of many a Bluesman because of her gritty, growling vocals that many aspired to emulate, but only she perfected.

Her female contemporaries in the late 1950s were the incomparable legends Big Mama Thornton and Big Maybelle, but Taylor’s career outlasted both – ranging six decades… but sadly ending June 3, 2009, with her death from complications following surgery to correct gastrointestinal bleeding.

Taylor’s signature tune, a 1966 cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” penned by Chess A&R man and perennial bassist, Willie Dixon, was instantly recognizable at her concerts – and always received with bursts of wild enthusiasm.

Taylor was featured in several films and soundtracks from David Lynch’s outlandish “Wild at Heart” to the mainstream family movie, “Adventures in Babysitting.” Set in Chicago, the movie features Koko covering Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil” just as the young heroes begin to realize they are in deep trouble with a very bad group of wrong-doers. It sets the entire tone for what is to come and weaves Chicago Blues through the movie. Both movies are highly recommended, for totally different reasons.

She also appeared in “The Blues is Alive and Well in Chicago” in 1970.

She broke ground in bringing Blues to modern TV sitcoms, as well. Her powerful voice on “I’m a Woman” is lip-synched by Rudy – the four-year-old daughter of Dr. Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.” One can only hope the spirit Koko Taylor put into that rendition had a lifetime effect on that tiny Blues Queen aspirant.

Koko Taylor is undeniably a force of nature, as one of her CDs attests, with many awards bestowed upon her.

From her Biography site (:
She’s received Grammy nominations for seven of her last eight Alligator albums, and she won a Grammy in 1984 for the live multi-artist album Blues Explosion on Atlantic Records. In 2004 she was presented with the coveted National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment For The Arts. She holds 25 Blues Music Awards (more than any other blues artist, male or female). A major feather in her cap came on March 3, 1993, when Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley honored Taylor with a Legend Of The Year Award, and declared “Koko Taylor Day” throughout Chicago. In 1998, Chicago Magazine named her “Chicagoan Of The Year,” and in 1999, Taylor was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall Of Fame. “There are many kings of the blues,” said The Boston Globe, “but only one queen. Koko’s voice is still capable of pinning a listener to the back wall.”

Yes, another of Blues’ third generation of elder statesmen – or woman in this case – has gone on to that Jook Joint in heaven. Following Junior Wells, Johnny Copeland and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Blues fans mourn the loss of another of the vanguard of the genre.

On a personal note, I learned about this in the wee wee hours of June 4. But the day before, I had sat down – I just happened to be facing West and a little North – and for some reason I envisioned the time I first interviewed Koko Taylor. It was the mid-’90s and I’d seen Koko many times, but had only been doing the Blues Moon radio show for a few years and finally got up my nerve to request an interview with her. When I arrived at Rockafella’s (a club formerly in the Five Points section of Columbia, S.C.) her manager said she would not be doing interviews because Miss Taylor was “upset.” I acceded, but inquired if I could just meet her, shake her hand and thank her for her contribution to the Blues. He was gracious and took me in the dark dressing room. She could not have been more warm and lovely. She would not hear of me leaving and we talked for nearly an hour, and as I left so she could get onstage, she insisted upon exchanging home phone numbers so we could stay in touch. I recall us talking about the loss of her long-time husband, “Pops” Taylor, and how sorely he was missed by her. That day – before I knew she had died, and now wondering what time that was – I sat thinking about how eventually the two of them would be together again in heaven.

It breaks my heart that she is gone – it is almost surreal to consider that fact – because she underpinned so many of the Blues experiences I’ve had. I’ve probably seen her live more times than anyone else by triple.

But it warms my heart to know that she sang until the end, received Traditional Female Performer of the Year at the Blues Awards (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards) this May in Memphis, her hometown. The daughter of a sharecropper ended up “owning” the capital of the Blues. Very fitting.

Koko – it goes without saying that you will be dearly missed by so many who loved you and your music.

Funeral Details (from her MySpace page): About Koko Taylor
WAKE/VISITATION AND FUNERAL SERVICESWake/Visitation (Lie in State)Thursday, June 11, 20094:00 pm - 9:00 pmRainbow Push Coalition National Headquarters930 East 50th Street at Drexel Blvd. Chicago, IL 60615Funeral ServicesFriday, June 12, 20096:00 pm(4:00 pm - 6:00 pm Visitation)Rainbow Push Coalition National Headquarters930 East 50th Street at Drexel Blvd. Chicago, IL 60615

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be directed to
The Koko Taylor Celebrity Aid Foundation

More awards (from her bio site):
2009 - Blues Music Awards: Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year.
2008 - Blues Music Awards: Traditional Blues Album of the Year - Old School, Song of the Year - Gonna Buy Me A Mule, Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year. 15th Annual Living Blues Awards Reader's Poll: Blues Artist Of The Year (Female), Blues Artist Of The Year (Female). Blues Blast: Best Female Artist
2004 - The National Endowment For The Arts (NEA) - National Heritage Fellowship, the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts
2003 - Year of the Blues - Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
2003 - Pioneer's Award
2001 - Vision Quest - Theta Phi Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
2001 - Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation
2001 - River Roads Lifetime Achievement - Mississippi Valley
2001 - Martin's International Culture Annual Music Awards
1999 - Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
1999 - Blues Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award - Etta James, Ruth Brown and Koko Taylor
1998 - Martin's International Culture Annual Music Awards
1998 - Chicagoan of the Year Award - Koko Taylor and Sammy Sosa
1997 - The National Academy of Blues - Mississippi First Reunion
1997 - Children's Brittle Bone Foundation, Outstanding Generosity
1997 - Blues Hall of Fame - Individual Inductee
1996 - Howlin' Wolf Award - exemplifies the Memphis and Chicago Blues Connection
1996 - Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
1995, 1996 - Jammin' for the Homeless
1995 - Blues Hall of Fame - Classic of Blues Recordings, MCA/Chess Records
1995 - Proclamation - Gary, IN Mayor Thomas Barnes
1994 - WSSD Jimmy Reed Blues Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding commitment to the Blues
1994 - Santa Cruz Award
1994 - Diamond Award for Excellence - Koko Taylor, Stevie Wonder, and Billy Taylor
1993 - Legend of the Year, presented by Clearly Canadian (2 Awards)
March 3, 1993 - "Koko Taylor Day" Declaration in Chicago by Mayor Richard Daley
1993 - Award for 30 years as Queen of the Blues by KCM Productions
IAAM Award (date forthcoming)
Proclamations - Buffalo, NY; Atlanta, GA (dates forthcoming)
New Music Award - New York (date forthcoming)
Discography (from http://www.myspace.com/kokotaylor):
RECORDINGS on Alligator Records



(originally Black & Blue; reissued on Evidence)


COAST TO COAST (Paul Shaffer – Capitol)
OF JANIS JOPLIN (House Of Blues)
Record LabelAlligator Records


Birth name Cora Walton Also known as KoKo
Born September 28, 1928
Shelby County, Tennessee Origin Memphis, Tennessee
Died June 3, 2009 (aged 80)
Chicago, Illinois
Genre(s) blues
R&B Occupation(s) Musician Instrument(s) Vocalist Years active 1960s—2009
Label(s) Alligator Records, MCA, Chess, Charly Records, Landscape Records
Website Koko Taylor.com

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Koko Taylor
Taylor at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, 2006
Background information
Birth name Cora Walton
Also known as KoKo
Born September 28, 1928Shelby County, Tennessee
Origin Memphis, Tennessee
Died June 3, 2009 (aged 80)Chicago, Illinois
Genre(s) bluesR&B
Occupation(s) Musician
Instrument(s) Vocalist
Years active 1960s—2009
Label(s) Alligator Records, MCA, Chess, Charly Records, Landscape Records
Website Koko Taylor.com
Koko Taylor sometimes spelled KoKo Taylor (September 28, 1928 – June 3, 2009)[1] was an American blues musician, popularly known as the "Queen of the Blues." She was known primarily for her rough powerful vocals and traditional blues stylings. In a May 2003 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, she was quoted as saying, "My life is like a train ride in fields of blue."
Life and career
Born Cora Walton in Shelby County, Tennessee, Taylor was the daughter of a sharecropper.[2] She left Memphis for Chicago, Illinois in 1952 with her husband, truck driver Robert "Pops" Taylor.[1] In the late 1950s she began singing in Chicago blues clubs. She was spotted by Willie Dixon in 1962, and this led to wider performances and her first recording contract. In 1965, Taylor was signed by Chess Records, for which her single "Wang Dang Doodle" (written by Dixon, and a hit for Howlin' Wolf five years earlier), featuring guitarist Little Walter,[3] became a major hit, reaching number four on the R&B charts in 1966, and selling a million copies.[1] Taylor recorded many versions of this Dixon-penned song over the past few decades and has added more material, both original and covers, but never repeated that initial chart success.
National touring in the late 1960s and early 1970s improved her fan base, and she became accessible to a wider record-buying public when she signed with Alligator Records in 1975. She recorded nine albums for Alligator, 8 of which were Grammy-nominated), and come to dominate the female blues singer ranks, winning twenty five W. C. Handy Awards (more than any other artist). After her recovery from a near-fatal car crash in 1989, the 1990s found Taylor in films such as Blues Brothers 2000, and she opened a blues club on Division Street in Chicago in 1994, but it closed in 1999.
Taylor influenced musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Shemekia Copeland, Janis Joplin, Shannon Curfman, and Susan Tedeschi. In the years prior to her death, she performed over 70 concerts a year and resided just south of Chicago in Country Club Hills, Illinois.
In 2008, the Internal Revenue Service said that Taylor owed $400,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest. Her tax problems concerned 1998, 2000 and 2001; for those years combined, her adjusted gross income was $949,000.[4]
Taylor died on June 3, 2009, after complications from surgery for gastrointestinal bleeding on May 19, 2009.[5] Her final performance was at the Blues Music Awards, on May 7, 2009.
· Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album - 1985
· Howlin' Wolf Award - 1996
· Blues Hall of Fame - Inducted 1997
· Blues Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award - 1999
· NEA National Heritage Fellowship - 2004
· Blues Music Award (formerly the W. C. Handy Award) - 24 times, including the following categories:
o Contemporary Blues Female Artist
o Entertainer of the Year
o Female Artist
o Traditional Blues Female Artist
o Vocalist of the Year
· At age 76 in 2004, she appeared as a special guest with Taj Mahal on an episode of Arthur.
· At age 80 in 2008, she appeared as a special guest with Umphrey's McGee at their New Year's Eve performance at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago.
· Taylor won for best blues album in the 7th annual Independent Music Awards [6]
· Love You Like a Woman (Charly Records) - November 30, 1968
· Koko Taylor (MCA/Chess) - 1969
· Basic Soul (Chess Records) - 1972
· South Side Lady (Evidence Records) - 1973
· I Got What It Takes (Alligator)
· Southside Baby (Black and Blue Records - 1975
· The Earthshaker (Alligator) - 1978
· From The Heart Of A Woman (Alligator) - 1981
· Queen of the Blues (Alligator) - 1985
· An Audience with Koko Taylor (Alligator) - 1987
· Live from Chicago (Alligator) - 1987
· "Wang Dang Doodle" (Huub Records) - 1991
· Jump for Joy (Alligator) - 1992
· Force of Nature (Alligator) - 1993
· Royal Blue (Alligator) - 2000
· Deluxe Edition (Alligator) - 2002
· Old School (Alligator) - 2007
See also
· Chicago Blues Festival
1. ^ a b c Kot, Greg. "Koko Taylor 1928–2009: Chicago's legendary 'Queen of the blues'," Chicago Tribune, Thursday, June 4, 2009.
2. ^ Associated Press: Blues queen Koko Taylor dies at 80 June 3, 2009
3. ^ Lastingtribute.co.uk
4. ^ Janet Novack and William P. Barrett (June 2, 2008). "Singing Tax Blues". Forbes Magazine. http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2008/0602/036.html.
5. ^ Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed June 2009
6. ^ 7th annual IMA winners
External links
· Official website
· Hoekstra, Dave. "Chicago legend and 'Queen of the Blues' Koko Taylor dead at 80," Chicago Sun-Times, Wednesday, June 3, 2009.
· Co-host of "Blues you can use", FM radio station WGVE 88.7, Gary, Indiana
· Interview with Koko Taylor on Centerstage Chicago (June 2007)
· Koko Taylor at the Internet Movie Database
· Koko Taylor at TV.com
· "Queen of the Blues: Koko Taylor Talks About Her Subjects", interview by James Plath, 1994
· Koko Taylor at Allmusic
· Wild Women Don't Have the Blues features interviews with Koko Taylor
· Koko Taylor - Daily Telegraph obituary

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